Circular building a leading light

Circular Building? It's a design concept not a shape. Nothing is wasted and everything can be reused – potentially the whole building might even be dismantled and repurposed. Now, in this context, enter Building D(emountable)!

Designed by cepezed architects

From the architects:

Building D(emountable) is a modern, sustainable and fully demountable structure on the site of a historic, monumental building complex in the centre of Dutch city Delft. This site is owned by cepezed, an architectural agency with expertise in the development, the design and the realisation of buildings.

Creative cluster

cepezed acquired the complex with former laboratories from Delft University of Technology in 2012. It transformed the monumental buildings into a creative cluster with housing for various companies in the creative sector, including its own offices.

However, the only non-monumental building on the site was in poor condition and this has now made way for the construction of Building D(emountable). Again, this is a full-blown own development of cepezed intended for companies in the knowledge-intensive creative industry. Building D(emountable) houses app and website developer 9to5 software and game developer Triumph Studios.

Circular prototype

Why here, why now? The Netherlands has set itself the goal of rendering all construction activities fully circular by 2050, while cepezed has a long reputation for modular and demountable design and construction. Moreover, Menno Rubbens director of developer cepezedprojects (the developer associated with cepezed) is part of the national program committee to achieve the national circularity goals.

Partly for those reasons, Building D(emountable) was to become an example project on cepezed’s own grounds. It was to demonstrate the way in which the architecture firm approaches circular construction and the way in which one can make buildings that can later be donated to other projects – or even be reused elsewhere in their entirety.

Lightweight, flexible and gas-free

The result is an exacting design and build which really gets the most out of materials both in terms of use and possible reuse. Sustainability elements also include energy use and close consideration of time frames and construction methods which both effect the cost and energy devoted to the project, and are also factored into the circulatory design model.

Building D(emountable) has exactly the same footprint as the existing, now demolished, building. It measures 11m by 21.5m and has four floors with about 200m² of lettable floor area each. In addition to being demountable and remountable, the structure is also super light-weight, with construction materials kept to an absolute minimum. The building is also completely flexible in its arrangement, has no gas connection and is equipped with heat recovery.

The ground floor is made of poured concrete, but otherwise all building components are modular and dry mounted. Supreme simplicity has been an important principle in the design.

To speed up construction many aspects of the
To speed up construction many aspects of the Building D(emountable) are prefabricated off site.

Steel, wood and glass

Building D(emountable) consists of a rationally optimized building kit with a steel, prefabricated and extremely slender main supporting structure. The structural floors and roof are made of lightweight wooden Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) elements that are also prefabricated. These have a compact height and the installations are integrated between them. 

The ribs of the LVL elements remain fully visible and are part of the building’s aesthetics. 

The screed is biobased and consists of gravel-like granules in a cardboard honeycomb structure with gypsum fibre boards on top. The entire screed is dry and easily removable again.

And the list of sustainable construction initiatives goes on. The PVC finishing floor is made of partly recycled PVC.

Plus the building has no window frames: the double-layer insulating glass is mounted directly on the steel structure. For that reason, the steel construction is provided with welded screw profiles. The steel builder had to comply with the very limited tolerances of the façade builder, which was no small task.

Building D(emountable) represents a circular building strategy whereby
Building D(emountable) represents a circular building strategy whereby nothing is wasted and everything is put to its maximum use, recycling included.

The façade is largely transparent, which makes for strong sight lines and relations between the inner and outer world. Vertical slat strips can be opened for natural ventilation.

The down-to-earth, modern building contrasts strikingly and interestingly with the surrounding historic existing buildings. This also renders it illustrative for the way cepezed approaches the combination of new and historic construction.


The entire building also functions as one large fire compartment. As a result, little material was required for fire-resistant measures; only the stairwell has a fire-resistant partition.

All climate control works on air. On each floor, air conditioners also used for heating are integrated into the ceiling. In addition, the building is equipped with a heat exchanger, while roller blinds provide sun and light protection.

Integral process

Construction took place over an extremely short period of around half a year. With the positioning of the elevator shaft, the building even topped out an hour after the works started. In fact, the complete structure of steel skeleton and wooden floors was put together in just three weeks. This was possible, among other things, because of an integrated process with thoughtful preparation and close, integrated cooperation between the various cepezed disciplines; from the project developers to the architecture and interior designers and of course the implementation coordinators.

With short communication lines, all specialists are housed under one roof, which has not only improved the efficiency of the process, but also the level of coordination and thus the quality. cepezedprojects developed, cepezed and cepezed interior designed and cepezedbouwteam coordinated the construction.

There was a close collaboration between the designers and the construction coordinator throughout the complete process, with key figures from the design process also being part of the implementation team.

The co-operation with the external partners is also worth mentioning. cepezed often collaborates with several of these on other projects, so as a result, all parties were already well attuned to each other.

The realisation was tendered out to various parties for the steel construction, floors, facades, MEP/HAVAC and the fit-up package. This pragmatic approach meant the implementing parties only had to concentrate on their own expertise. In terms of time, use of materials and financially, this has resulted in a high degree of efficiency.

Example at home

With circular projects such as the Temporary Courthouse in Amsterdam and restaurant The Green House in Utrecht, cepezed previously realised other projects completely designed for circularity. These garnered a lot of publicity and various prizes, such as the Amsterdam Architecture Prize and the public award of the Sustainable Building Awards.

With Building D(emountable), cepezed now has a circular example of its own manufacture directly at home. Customers and partners only have to look out the window to see how cepezed shapes circularity.

Credit list

Building D(emountable)
architectenbureau cepezed, Delft
Structural engineering
IMd Raadgevende Ingenieurs, Rotterdam
Construction coordination
cepezedbouwteam, Delft
Contractor electrical and mechanical installations
Kuijpers Utiliteit Midden-Noord B.V, De Meern
Contractor glass façades
iFS Building Systems, Waddinxveen
EeStairs, Barneveld
Wall systems
Qbiq, Alphen aan de Rijn
Project development
cepezedprojects, Delft
Interior design
cepezedinterieur, Delft
Consultant mechanical & electrical engineering, consultant building physics, sustainability, acoustics, fire safety
Nelissen ingenieursbureau, Eindhoven
Contractor steel construction
Voortman Steel Construction, Rijssen
Wood flooring
Metsä Wood / De Groot Vroomshoop
Contractor roof
Roof Protection, Arkel
Contractor ceilings and custom interior walls
Schelp Bouw & Interieur, Eersel

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Lucas van der Wee

19 Apr, 2020

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